Customer data is customer DNA.

When you look at a retailer’s ability to combine both the e-commerce data they have and the in-store data they have, it remains a big area of opportunity.

Amazon’s open marketplace serves as a means for any brand to reach their customers as quickly as possible. But the truth is they don’t have a fully articulated picture of each customer at the individual brand level, down to every touchpoint. They don’t have the store data that brick-and-mortar retailers gather every day.

How can retailers use that data to see, serve, and speak to customers more knowledgeably than ever, offering value than Amazon can’t?

Don’t just adopt a single view of the customer, show it to them.

While retailers have struggled to achieve it, the “single customer view” has been a buzzy idea for a couple of decades now. If you can paint one holistic portrait of your customer, you’ve won the game, right?

But as touchpoints (digital and physical) continue to increase, so does the tendency for customer data to become more siloed, more disparate. And the cost of reconciling this data can’t outweigh the means.

Some retailers are finding the right tools

“When you look at a retailer’s ability to combine both the e-commerce data they have and the in-store data they have, it remains a big area of opportunity. Tools have emerged that help these companies do that. Amazon obviously created the whole structure around ‘if you like this you might buy this,’ but they still don’t have the benefit of what’s happening in-store.” —Paulo Carvao, GM, IBM US Retail, CPG, Travel and Transportation Markets

Skincare company Aesop is currently launching the single view approach in a POS system that unifies all of its legacy systems, from e-commerce to CRM and inventory, in one place: the store.

Customers are beginning to understand more and more how companies use their data. As a result, they don’t only expect but demand that brands treat them more as individuals, making recommendations based on past purchases or even life events and tailoring messaging to feel more personal.

Put the power in the hands of your store associates.

There’s no doubt that customers continue to seek out and value personal service in-store. Data-powered technology can help bring newer sales associates up to speed, eliminating skills gaps and contributing to the continued emergence of New Collar work.

The City Furniture app, for example, guides store associates towards personalized recommendations based on customer history, driving a 13% higher average order. It’s an effective way to make each transaction that much more engaging.

Paulo Carvao recognizes that the brand-customer relationship is never stronger than when the store associate is right at their side. There is a need for “the right balance of in-person store support and technology. Sales associates now have tablets in their hands, you can actually track that data. Whether this is an associate self-selecting something to show customers or allowing customers to make choices, those are interactions you can learn from. Those insights will help the next time that type of customer comes in and the associate gets a head start on what that customer is most likely to do. We are now building and offering an engaging experience in which the customer kind of chooses their own adventure.”

Anticipate your customers’ next move.

84% of customers want brands to approach them with a healthy degree of familiarity, laying out choices based on their preferences. This comes down to content, not just as a means of appealing to passion points, but also gathering data for the future.

Inventive e-tailer Snowe also functions as a publisher of editorial content, growing customer affinity for their brand while learning even more about their interests and habits. Buzzfeed, of course, found a powerful content and advertising platform in Tasty, which is syndicated out to international audiences.

The data obtained from publishing offers a more holistic view of the customer, which leads to new opportunities to engage them. From here, you can anticipate retail and cultural trends, and innovate.

It’s called predictive intelligence: seeing your customer’s needs before they actually indicate them. And with that kind of soothsaying comes a rise in customer loyalty.

Stitch Fix is one of the brands leading the pack in terms of giving customers what they want before they ask:

“They’ve [Stitch Fix] built their whole business from the ground up through algorithm-powered fashion, using data to make real recommendations that are customized to the individual person.—Bryan Throckmorton, North America Practice Leader, AI, Analytics, Big Data & IoT, GBS IBM

In short, data is how you evolve with them.

Customers want the brands they engage with most to have a clear picture of them. And they’re becoming ever more sharp on the ways data gives you that picture. But as brands show that they can respond to a customer’s evolution using this data, they can position themselves as responsive AND responsible.

Customers are also deeply reflective of their local environment. Read how you can use data to stock shelves like you’re someone from the neighborhood.